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Law School Building Boom

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07/17/2011

Despite their graduates having fewer employment opportunities and lower pay, law schools are ramping up the brick and mortar. David Segal reports for The New York Times,

As other industries close offices and downsize plants, the manufacturing base behind the doctor of jurisprudence keeps growing. Fordham Law School in New York recently broke ground on a $250 million, 22-story building. The University of Baltimore School of Law and the University of Michigan Law School are both working on buildings that cost more that $100 million. Marquette University Law School in Wisconsin has just finished its own $85 million project. A bunch of other schools have built multimillion dollar additions.

Segal explains that law school tuition has increased at 4 times that of undergraduate education, which itself has increased 4 times the CPI. ”From 1989 to 2009, when college tuition rose by 71 percent, law school tuition shot up 317 percent.”

It is one of the academy’s open secrets: law schools toss off so much cash they are sometimes required to hand over as much as 30 percent of their revenue to universities, to subsidize less profitable fields.

Law schools are enrolling more students than ever before at annual tuition rates of $40,000+ per year. And while Yale Harvard and other law schools advertise that recent graduate average $160,000 per year in earnings, New York Law School dean Richard A. Matasar, admits, “In these materials and in our conversations with students and applicants, we explicitly tell them that most graduates find work in small to medium firms at salaries between $35,000 and $75,000.”

Katherine Greenier, of N.Y.L.S.’s class of 2010 is unhappy. “There were people wondering, why did the school take on this many people in a job market this terrible?” she asked. “How many of these folks are going to find jobs? And what does it say about the school?”

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